Note to self…..

As if at this time next year it’s going to pop up again and remind me.

A month or six weeks ago the first of my left in the ground Dahlias started to appear. They were all left in the ground, the only ones in pots were a couple I’d bought as bare tubers. I’d already started doing nightly slug patrols, paying particular attention to the Dahlias and in most cases it seemed to be working. It became clear that it wasn’t working for all of them though, with three plants making no headway at all against the onslaught. I dug them up, keeping an intact rootball as far as I could, put them into 10 litre pots with some old compost filling any spaces. Three weeks spent in my poly tunnel saw them 3-4 inches high, the weather dryer and slug numbers falling rapidly, so back into the ground they went. They seem barely to have noticed and are growing away nicely, albeit some way behind the ones that didn’t need or get the treatment.

It’s the ones the slugs encounter first when they head out from their daytime hiding places that are most vulnerable and I was concerned that when I moved the worst affected plants, the next nearest would be in the firing line. It didn’t seem to happen, maybe by then they were far enough on to take a little munching.

Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’, too close to slug cover to grow away.

I cut back my Euphorbia mellifera on 13th May. Now, a month later, new growth is starting to develop. When I pruned it, I left the basal inch or so of the mainly two year old shoots that I was removing, thinking that regrowth would come from the dormant buds on the stubs. It hasn’t, instead it is mostly coming from the main framework of the plant around the base of the shoots. I could have taken the shoots off flush and not lost any regrowth, but also not have been left with masses of 1-2 inch dead stubs. I’ll know next time and should have known this, if I’d taken the trouble to see where the shoots I was cutting down had arisen from.

I don’t seem to have a record of when they were sown but last year I had seedlings of Rhodochiton atrosanguineus too late in the summer for them to get planted out. As a consequence, around ten plants were kept in a frost protected greenhouse in 1 litre pots until this spring. They never entirely stopped growing and it took an hour or so of careful unravelling to disentangle them without too much damage before planting them out in the garden. They were already in flower and have just got better since, while making good growth. I must search for a label, see if there is a sowing date, then repeat the process for next year.

Rhodochiton, six feet high and it’s still only June.

Finally, a cactus. Taken after I posted my saturday six and lasting only two or three days, so I’d be cheating to include it next week. At least the header Iris will still be flowering next week, the cacti are fleeting in the extreme.

15 thoughts on “Note to self…..

  1. I started my Dahlias off in pots this year and have been planning to leave them in the ground over winter but am beginning to have second thoughts as, despite using the slug nematodes and keeping the ground damp, they are being badly eaten. I’m not sure that they’ll have a fair chance. I also tried over wintering Rhodochiton plants but only about 50% survived. Did you cut yours back?


    1. I used nematodes earlier in the year, to no obvious benefit. The Dahlias get through the winter fine in the ground, it’s getting going in the spring that’s the problem. Timed right, lifting and potting them just long enough to get them a few inches high would be perfect, if I knew in advance which ones the slugs were going to target. It limits the number needing lifting, potting and replanting and reduces the storage space and time greatly. I didn’t cut the Rhodochitons, just tied them up to an 18 inch cane that proved to be less than half long enough.


  2. Thank you for the advice for the euphorbia and the rhodochiton is really nice ! I overwintered mine in the gh this winter too, reducing it to a 2L pot only and it measures 1m high… for now.


    1. Rhodochiton has great flower power. I am trying another annual(?) climber called Lophospermum this year, supposed to grow to 60cm but it’s already more than that. I just searched for the Rhodochiton label and I sowed them on 31 May last year. I need some seed.


      1. I didn’t know the lophospermum. Apparently same family as rhodochiton but likes full sun a little less. I think the leaves will be a little more flabby with high temperatures. Great choice though. I’m waiting for your post about that plant in a future Six.


  3. Now that you have reminded me, I must cut back Euphorbia mellifera here! We haven’t left dahlias in the ground overwinter since the exceptionally cold winter of 2010/11 when they, and lots of cannas, were killed in the ground. It does involve some work, lifing, storing, repotting etc but we have most of our dahlias in flower at the moment. That rhodochiton is a champion!


      1. So, it is just a matter of their brief season, and that they bloom all at once? That is an unfortunate characteristic of the species from deserts. Tropical cacti, such as epiphyllum, are not so punctual about their season, although their flowers do not last an longer than those of other cacti.


      2. That a flower lasts only a day makes it more special really, especially if it’s spectacular. I’m trying to visualize a municipal bed of Cactus, flowering like Begonias for six months solid; would it make them more desirable or cheapen them. The latter, probably.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It would not be easy to get such an extensive bloom. Within a climate that desert cacti perform well, other types of cacti would not be so happy. If epiphyllum are happy, desert cacti would not be. A good mix of epiphyllum might bloom for a few months, and are exquisite in bloom, but are not much to brag about otherwise. The Arizona Garden at Stanford contains several cacti and agave and yucca, but they are more spectacular for their distinctive form than for their bloom.


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